What to do about it? Let's turn off our minds and GIS
The vogue for crime mapping is implicitly based upon the presumption of the unique usefulness of spatial location in identifying people, places and spaces highly liable to crime victimisation. While applauding investment in the mapping enterprise, the writer argues that concentration on the mapping of spatial location to the exclusion, or relegation to secondary roles, of other variables associated with crime hazard is unnecessarily limiting. While this is clearly not the intention of crime mappers, the promulgation of mapping by Government and academics creates the clear danger that this will be a consequence of current priorities in local crime analysis. Concern with spatial location in the crime reduction community owes more to the mind-set of police officers, whose responsibility is territorially defined, than to evidence that crime concentration is primarily spatial in nature. A simple modelling approach is advocated whereby a small number of variables (where that information which is both readily accessible by agents of crime control and most predictive of victimisation), used in allocating crime reduction effort are identified. This may or may not include spatial location. If it does not, this does not remove the value of spatial mapping for activities such as the quicker completion of crime reports and identification of offender residence-offence location linkages.